Mesenteric ischemia history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Feham Tariq, MD [2]


The hallmark of mesenteric ischemia is 'abdominal pain out of proportion to the examination findings'. A positive history of chronic heart disease and old age is suggestive of mesenteric ischemia . The most common symptoms of mesenteric ischemia include excruciating abdominal pain, altered bowel movements, and .Symptoms of chronic mesenteric ischemia caused by atherosclerosis include abdominal pain after eating and diarrhea, while that of acute mesenteric artery ischemia due to an embolus include diarrhea, sudden severe abdominal pain, and vomiting.


Patients suffering from mesenteric ischemia may have a positive history of:

Personal history Medical history Surgical history Family history
  • History of smoking
  • High cholesterol level
  • Vasculitis
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Irregular cardiac rythm disorders
  • Malignancy
Family history of
  • Deep venous thrombosis
  • Pulmonary embolism


The severity and rapidity of mesenteric vessels occlusion determine the symptoms of mesenteric ischemia. [1][2]

Systemic classification of acute and chronic mesenteric ischemia symptoms is as follows:

Acute mesentric ischemia Chronic mesenteric ischemia
General symptoms Gastrointestinal symptoms Life threatening symptoms General symptoms Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Malaise
  • Nausea (44%)
  • Fever
  • Mental confusion
  • Heart rate > 100 in 33%
  • Abdominal Pain:(present in 95% cases)


Onset: Sudden


Severity: Moderate to severe

  • Urgency to bowel movements
  • Vomiting (35%)
  • Diarrhea (35%)
  • Constipation
  • Blood per rectum
  • Abdominal distention
  • Increased frequency of bowel movements
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Fullness after eating
  • Worsening abdominal pain
  • Aversion to eating
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Diarrhea


  1. Oldenburg WA, Lau LL, Rodenberg TJ, Edmonds HJ, Burger CD (2004). "Acute mesenteric ischemia: a clinical review". Arch. Intern. Med. 164 (10): 1054–62. PMID 15159262. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.10.1054. 
  2. Font VE, Hermann RE, Longworth DL (1989). "Chronic mesenteric venous thrombosis: difficult diagnosis and therapy". Cleveland Clinic journal of medicine. 56 (8): 823–8. PMID 2691119.